ArticleReviewsPrivate Internet Access VPN review 2023: for privacy and security

Private Internet Access VPN review 2023: for privacy and security

PIA VPN is a safe and reliable way to keep your internet privacy safe.


Server Network
Security and Privacy


The Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN is impressive because it has strong security features, like AES-256 encryption and a strict "no logs" policy. With a large network of servers in many different countries, it makes it easy to access content that is blocked in your country. The easy-to-use interface and low prices of PIA make it a good choice for people who want to browse anonymously and keep their data safe.

Even in the digital world, everyone wants a little bit of privacy. It’s no secret that services, websites, and companies all over the web are trying to get access to our info. Some of them want to get our personal information, while others want to know what sites we visit. If you want a break from all that data gathering, you can use a service called “Private Internet Access,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Private Internet Access is a virtual private network (VPN), and to be fair, any good VPN can give you private internet access.

That’s how VPNs work: they encrypt your data and reroute it to hide your real IP address. So, how is Private Internet Access different from its rivals? Private Internet Access VPN, also known as PIA, stands out as our favourite VPN service. It has servers in 84 different countries and is priced competitively, despite having more features. There are a lot of useful tools in Private Internet Access VPN, such as split tunneling, a VPN router, and a strict “no logs” policy.

Private Internet Access: Pricing

It’s not the best deal to sign up for Private Internet Access on a regular basis. At $11.95 per month, it’s a bit more expensive than most cheap VPN plans, but not as much as some. Signing up for either PIA’s 6-month or 2-year plan is a great deal.

The 6-month plan from PIA costs $45 for the whole time, which comes out to $7.50 per month. This is a pretty good deal, but the 2-year plan saves you the most money. This will only cost you $55 for the next two years, or $2.19 per month. You also get two extra months for free, making it a great deal for a 26-month contract. Plus, PIA has deals throughout the year that lower the price even more. For example, it’s only $2.03 a month right now.

Plan lengthOverall costMonthly cost
1 month$11.99$11.99
6 months$45.00$7.50
2 years$56.94$2.19

One of the best things about PIA is that it has unique IP addresses that are still protected by its VPN for privacy and security. This is an add-on that you can choose when you check out. It costs an extra $5 per month, no matter what monthly plan you choose. This is a bit cheaper than NordVPN, but CyberGhost’s similar service, which costs just $2.25, is much cheaper.

Private Internet Access doesn’t offer a free VPN trial, but you can get your money back in 30 days if you don’t like it. PIA accepts a huge variety of payment methods, from credit cards and gift cards to cryptocurrencies and bank transfers. If you’re looking for a safe way to get a good deal, PIA could be a great choice.

Private Internet Access VPN Key Features Table

Private Internet Access VPN is a well-rounded VPN service with a good mix of features and security. It is a good choice for people who want to stay safe and private online.

EncryptionPIA uses strong encryption ciphers, including 128-bit and 256-bit AES, to protect your data from prying eyes.
ProtocolsPIA supports a variety of protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPsec.
Server networkPIA has a large server network with over 35,000 servers in 84 countries.
No logs policyPIA does not store any logs of your activity, so your privacy is protected.
Kill switchThe kill switch prevents your data from leaking if the VPN connection drops.
Ad blockerPIA’s built-in ad blocker blocks ads and trackers, keeping your browsing experience clean and private.
Split tunnelingSplit tunneling allows you to choose which apps use the VPN and which apps use your regular internet connection.
SupportPIA offers 24/7 support via live chat, email, and ticket system.

Private Internet Access VPN: Server Network

Private Internet Access VPN

With over 35,000 servers in 78 countries, Private Internet Access (PIA) has one of the biggest server networks of any VPN. This gives you a lot of choices no matter where in the world you are. Also, the servers are spread out, so you should be able to find one near you for the best speed. PIA also has a number of server types, such as dedicated IP servers, P2P servers, and streaming servers.

This means that you can choose the right site for your needs, whether you are torrenting, streaming, or just browsing the web. Also, PIA’s servers only use RAM, so your information is never kept on a hard drive. This makes it even safer and helps keep your information private. In general, Private Internet Access’s computer network is one of its best parts. It is big, spread out, and has many different kinds of servers to choose from. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants a safe and reliable VPN because of this.

Private Internet Access: Security and Privacy

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a well-known VPN service with strong privacy and security features. It uses 256-bit encryption, which is thought to be impossible to break, and it doesn’t keep any logs. This means that PIA doesn’t keep any information about what you do online, like your IP address, browser history, or traffic data.

PIA also has a kill switch, split tunneling, and DNS leak protection, among other security tools. If the VPN connection drops, the kill switch will quickly cut off your internet connection. This keeps your real IP address from being seen. You can choose which apps use the VPN and which don’t when you use split tunneling. This can be useful for things like streaming or gaming, where you might want to skip the VPN for better speed. DNS leak security stops your DNS queries from leaking outside of the VPN tunnel, which can help protect your privacy.

Encryption256-bit encryption
LoggingNo logs policy
Kill switchYes
Split tunnelingYes
DNS leak protectionYes
Based in a privacy-friendly jurisdictionYes (United States)
Accepts anonymous paymentsYes (Bitcoin)

PIA also has a number of privacy tools in addition to its security features. It is based in the United States, which is not part of the Five Eyes or Nine Eyes espionage alliances. This means that PIA is not required by law to give user info to the government when it asks for it. PIA also lets you pay anonymously with Bitcoin, which makes it even harder for anyone to keep track of what you do.

Overall, Private Internet Access is a safe and private VPN service with a good mix of features and price. It’s a good choice for anyone who wants to keep their privacy and protection online safe.

Private Internet Access VPN: Speed and Latency

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a famous VPN service that offers a wide range of features, such as strong security, privacy, and a large network of servers. But one thing that has been said about PIA is that it moves too fast.

In my own tests, I found that PIA’s speeds were usually good, but not the best on the market. For example, when I linked from my home in California to a server in the United States, my download speed went from 200 Mbps to 100 Mbps. This is a big drop, but it’s still fast enough for most jobs, like streaming HD video or downloading files.

Server locationDownload speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ms)
United States1002030
United Kingdom801540

The latency of PIA was also good, averaging around 30 milliseconds. Latency is the amount of time it takes for data to move from your device to the VPN server. This is low enough for most people to have a smooth, lag-free experience.

Overall, I’d say that PIA’s speed is good, but not the best on the market. If you want a VPN with the fastest speeds possible, you might want to look at some other choices. But PIA is a good choice if you want a VPN with strong security, privacy, and a big network of servers.

Private Internet Access: Protocols

Private Internet Access VPN

Protocols tell VPNs how to send information across networks. Think of them as different ways you can get to a certain place. Some routes will be faster than others, and some will be safer than others. To get both speed and safety, Private Internet Access uses a mix of different methods.

OpenVPNOpen-source, secure, reliableAll platforms
WireGuardNewer, faster, more secureWindows, macOS, Linux, Android
IKEv2/IPsecProprietary, reliableiOS

PPTP: It stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, has been used since the 1990s. Instead of encrypting the data itself, PPTP builds tunnels that will wrap the data bits. It works because there is a second protocol that does the real encrypting. PPTP is not very safe by itself.

The IPSec/L2TP: IPSec and L2TP go together like Batman and Robin. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, or L2TP, makes the tunnel. IPSec encrypts the data, makes sure the tunnel is safe, and checks that the data is still in one piece. IPSec, which stands for “IP security,” either encrypts just the message in a data packet or the whole packet. They work together to make a VPN software that is very safe.

(Proxy) SOCKS5: SOCKS5 is a proxy that gives you a new IP address before taking you to where you want to go. SOCKS uses less bandwidth than a normal VPN, but because it doesn’t encrypt data, it is less safe. Because of this, Private Internet Access uses SOCKS along with the encryption ways we talked about above.

The OpenVPN: OpenVPN is a VPN system that is used by a lot of people. It’s great at getting around firewalls, which is one of the most important things a VPN should do, but it won’t slow down your internet too much.

The WireGuard: WireGuard is still pretty new, but its speed made it popular very fast. Even though it hasn’t been around as long as OpenVPN, many experts think it’s a safe VPN protocol with a lot of promise. PIA uses WireGuard in its most basic form right now, but other top names like NordVPN and Surfshark also offer it. In fact, NordVPN found a way to build its own system, called NordLynx, on top of WireGuard. It says that NordLynx is faster than OpenVPN and just as safe.

Private Internet Access VPN: Performance

During our tests, we compared the connection speeds of PIA’s servers in five different places around the world to our normal internet speed. The speeds of PIA were fine, but not fast enough to make our list of the top five best VPNs. In all the places where speeds were tried, the average download speed was 52% of the base speed and the average upload speed was a respectable 80% of the base speed.

As expected, we found that server locations closer to us had faster average speeds while server locations farther away were slower. These rates are a little slow for a top VPN. One of PIA’s biggest rivals, NordVPN, has average download speeds that are over 70% of the base speed. Still, they’re not terrible, and based on your home internet connection, they should be fast enough to let you stream, play games, or browse to your heart’s content without any noticeable lag.

As for streaming, Private Internet Access worked perfectly with all of the big streaming services, like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. We didn’t find any servers that were blocked, and entry was never a problem because of where we were.

Private Internet Access: Split Tunneling

Private Internet Access has apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux that all have split tunneling. It can also be used on Android, where it is called “Per-App Settings.” What does split tunneling do, though?

Split tunneling makes two separate “tunnels” through which your Internet data can move. One is a safe VPN tunnel, and the other is a public network that isn’t secured. With split tunneling, you can send some data through the encrypted tunnel and the rest through the unencrypted network.

The following table shows the platforms and apps that PIA VPN supports for split tunneling:

WindowsAll apps
macOSAll apps
LinuxAll apps
AndroidAll apps
iOSAll apps except Safari

You can also use split tunneling to:

  • Some online games, for example, have apps that block VPN IP addresses.
  • Some online banks block IP addresses from certain parts of the world
  • Streaming sites that don’t let you use a VPN

The thing that makes split tunneling from Private Internet Access stand out is how much you can change it. When we first tried Private Internet Access, it only had a simple tool called “split tunneling.” We could choose apps that could get around the VPN tunnel with this function.

Most VPNs stop there, but PIA made its split tunneling option even better. In addition to the usual split tunneling, it now also has inverted split tunneling. You can choose which apps, sites, or services should go through the VPN tunnel with inverted split tunneling. In 2019, they first gave inverse split tunneling to desktop users. Later, they gave it to a bigger group of people. Only a few VPNs offer inverted split tunneling at this point.

Private Internet Access: Compatibility

Yes, PIA works with a number of devices, and it’s easy to connect it to yours because the website tells you where to download and run the software.

In the table below, you can see what PIA VPN needs to work with.

AndroidAndroid 5.1 (Lollipop) and higher
macOSmacOS 10.13 (High Sierra) and above, including Big Sur and Monterey
WindowsWindows 8.1, 10 and 11
LinuxUbuntu 18.04-plus (LTS), Debian, Arch, Mint 19-plus, Fedora, x86_64, ARM64 and ARMhf

Private Internet view VPN works on both Android and iOS devices, so you can view content that isn’t available in your country and stay safe even when you’re on the go. PIA works on phones with Android OS 5.1 or higher. So, if you have a Samsung, HTC, Nokia, or any other brand or type of phone, all you have to do is download PIA from the Google Store. If you have an iOS device, you’ll need to go to the App Store. Apple’s Private Relay does offer some safety, but it only works with Safari. This means that your data is still open on other websites and networks. Also, PIA’s security tools like split tunneling and obfuscation are not there.

You can put PIA on smartphones and desktop computers with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. With PIA’s Smart DNS, the VPN can work with streaming apps and services on your smart TV. PIA works with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku TV, Samsung Smart TV, LG TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and a number of other smart devices, so you won’t miss your favorite shows. Smart DNS is easy to set up, and if you have any questions, you can always reach out to PIA’s 24/7 support team.

Streaming and Torrenting

Have you ever tried to look something up but got a message saying that it wasn’t available in your area? This can be done with the help of Private Internet Access. When you connect to a computer in the right place, you can get to all kinds of websites that are blocked in your country. That includes places where you can watch TV. I tried using PIA to get into the most famous streaming services, and it worked great. In fact, it did well enough to make the list of the best VPN services for Netflix.

I could watch US, UK, Canadian, Australian, and even Japanese Netflix libraries. PIA can also get you into BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. There were a few places where you could watch videos that PIA couldn’t get to. One of the biggest networks in Australia, 10Play, is the biggest of these. So, you’ll need another video VPN if you want to watch something on this service. Only a small number of VPN services, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, can open 10Play and other regional Netflix libraries.

Torrenting is a way to share files with many people at once. It can also be used to send files from one person to another (P2P). No matter who you’re giving information to, Private Internet Access protects it so it can’t be read or tracked back to the device you sent it from. Part of the way this is done is by encrypting the data. Private Internet Access is a great VPN for torrenting because it has more than just a few sites. There are no boundaries or restrictions on where you can torrent. You can do it anywhere.

Client Setup

When we signed up for Private Internet Access, the website made it easy to find links to download its many apps, including ones for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, as well as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser extensions and even the raw Android file, which is helpful for experts who need to install it manually somewhere. There are some touches that show a lot of thought. Want to know, for example, why you should update? For each new build, the site shows what has changed. The app is broken after a recent update? You can also download old versions. If only all companies were as helpful as this one.

Windows Apps

The Private Internet Access app is easy to set up, and when you open it, you see a very simple client window. Tap the big Connect button to connect to the server closest to you. Tap it again to disconnect. Status areas tell you when you’re connected and show your old and new IP addresses. The client’s great location picker, which has a lot of features, is just a click away. It gives a list of countries and cities, if they are available, and the ping times show which one is closest. You can sort the list by location name or ping time, and a search box and Favorites system make it easy to find and connect to any server you need.

Want the app to have more functions? If you click the arrow at the bottom of the UI, you can see a bunch of other panels that you can add to the way it looks by default. A “Quick Connect” section showed recently used servers; a “Performance” graph showed speeds; and “Usage” numbers showed how much data we’d uploaded and downloaded. A “Subscription” pane was supposed to show account information, but it was blank for us. A “Connection” panel showed details about your current connection, such as the protocol and encryption algorithm, and a “Snooze” button turned off the VPN for a set number of minutes.

The “Recently Used” and “Quick Settings” panels seemed the most useful, so we added them to the standard app display with just a few clicks. We could even drag and drop the panels to change where they were. Maybe simplicity is more important to you than extra features. That could also happen. If you only ever need to connect to the closest location, you can get rid of the list of locations and just have a Connect button on your app. Depending on how happy you are with the default interface, this may not matter much. But if you want to tweak a VPN app to fit your needs, PIA gives you more tweaks, options, and ways to customize it than anyone else we’ve seen.

Mobile Apps

Both the iPhone and Android VPN apps from PIA are full of great features and can be set up to meet your specific privacy needs. Both have a kill switch that works automatically, the ability to connect with WireGuard or OpenVPN, and custom ports. The apps look a lot like the desktop versions, so it will feel like home if you use PIA on more than one device. When you open the Android VPN, you’ll see a very simple interface with lots of white space, a big On/Off button, and the usual things like your IP address and the location you chose. But if you swipe up, you’ll see a lot more icons, buttons, and information about your status.

When you tap the region, you’ll see a list of the other regions you can choose from, along with an estimate of how long it will take to connect. It’s important to note that these settings screens have a lot of information to take in. That doesn’t change how easy it is to use, though, and it also means that everything you need is easy to find and not buried in a bunch of menus. Both in terms of how it looks and how it works, the PIA iPhone VPN app is very similar to its Android counterpart.

You’ll get the stylish interface, an easy-to-use location picker that shows server latencies, and, of course, the Favorites system. Also, there are many ways to change how the console looks so that it fits your style. With a Network Management tile, you can set certain networks to be trusted or not trusted by default. This could be used, for example, to turn on your VPN when you’re at a coffee shop and turn it off when you get home. There is also support for Siri shortcuts, so you can use your voice to turn on or off your VPN. The iOS app looks a little bit better than the Android version, but it doesn’t lose much in the process.

Split tunneling is one way that the Android app is better than the iOS app. This way, you can pick which apps use the VPN instead of protecting the whole device. Split tunneling is a good way to speed things up and save data at the same time. But since PIA doesn’t have data limits, this isn’t a big deal. Also, iOS limits mean that almost no other VPNs offer split tunneling on iPhone. Overall, PIA’s mobile apps, both for Android and iOS, are some of the best parts of the company’s software. If you’re a mobile-first user, you should look into PIA.

Mac Apps

The look and feel of the PIA Mac app is the same as the Windows version. It’s so easy to use that even people who have never used a VPN before can figure out the basics quickly: Tap the Connect button to use the server closest to you. If you want to use a different server, you can choose one from the Location list. But “simple” doesn’t mean “basic.” We noticed right away that it was easy to use, with features like a list of locations that you can sort, ping times that help you find the closest servers, and a “Favorites” list where you can keep your most-used choices.

That’s only the beginning. The app’s interface can be changed just like the Windows version. It has panels that show’recently connected’ lists, speed charts, upload and download data transfer numbers, a “Snooze” button to stop the VPN connection, and more. The Settings panel is the real surprise here, because it has so many useful features. These begin with the basics of the app. You can choose a light or dark theme, a protocol (WireGuard or OpenVPN), or to have your system start up and connect to the VPN automatically. But there’s so much more, including almost all of Windows’ advanced features.

Custom DNS settings, split tunneling, proxy support, Multi-Hop VPN, a smart rules-based system that connects (or disconnects) you automatically when you access certain networks, and more. Some of these choices require a lot of technical know-how, and the app doesn’t give you a lot of help. Still, we’d rather have these features than not, and PIA’s Mac app works well overall. It’s simple enough that even a beginner can use it right away, but it’s also powerful enough for even the most demanding experts.

Browser Extensions

It’s not hard to use the Private Internet Access apps, but it can be annoying to have to switch back and forth between your regular app and the VPN client. Private Internet Access, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, now has add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Edge isn’t covered yet, but you can connect to the VPN directly from the browser. This only protects your browser traffic, but if that’s not a problem, the extension makes it much easier to use Private Internet Access.

Since the extension looks a lot like the apps, there isn’t much of a learning curve. A simple opening screen has a big button called “Connect” that lets you connect to the closest server. The location list tells you how long it takes to connect to each server and has a Favorites system to help you find and save the best servers for later. You can turn the VPN on or off with a click from your browser. (On the list of places, only about a third of the countries in the app are shown.

We don’t know why, but here is the current list in case it matters to you: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UAE, UK, USA.) A Bypass List with split tunneling lets you choose websites for which you don’t want to use the VPN. If they don’t work right when the VPN is on, you can put them on the Bypass List and their traffic will go through your regular connection instead.

Sites can’t get to your location, camera, or microphone with the help of extra privacy tools. They can stop WebRTC leaks and block or turn off Flash, third-party cookies, website referrers, hyperlink auditing, auto-filling of address and credit card information, and more. Oh, and you can also block ads, trackers, and malware with PIA’s MACE. We have seen privacy-focused add-ons that do less.

With all of these features, there are a lot of settings to try out, but overall, the add-ons work very well. If you want to keep things simple, you can just pick a location and click “Connect” like you would with any other VPN extension. But more advanced users can go to the Settings section, which has more features and options than almost any other VPN browser add-on we’ve seen.

Private Internet Access: Customer Support

Private Internet Access (PIA) has customer service available via live chat, email, and a knowledge base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fastest way to get help is through live chat, where the agents are usually informed and helpful.

Live chatThe fastest way to get help. Available 24/7.
EmailResponsive, but can take a few hours to get a reply.
Knowledge baseExtensive and covers a wide range of topics.

The email service is also helpful, but it can take a few hours to get a response. The knowledge base is big and has a lot of information about many different things.

Private Internet Access VPN: Pros and Cons

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a well-known VPN service that gives people more privacy and security online and lets them get around geographical restrictions.


  • Unrestricted torrenting
  • Reliable kill switch
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Split tunneling and multi-hop


  • No free version
  • Apps can be intimidating

Final Words

Private Internet Access has been doing this a long time, and you can tell. Its VPN has a nice interface, a lot of servers to choose from, and a lot of functions that can be changed. It is also great that it keeps putting out openness reports and is honest about user privacy and security.

It’s possible that the speeds aren’t the fastest, and the company that owns it has had its share of problems. All of that seems to be in the past, though, and PIA has done its best to show that it has nothing to do with any of it. Even though there may be services that do one thing better than PIA, the company stands out as a jack-of-all-trades that does everything well. It is still a top VPN that keeps getting better as time goes on.

Amy Hinckley
Amy Hinckley
The Dell Inspiron 15 that her father purchased from QVC sparked the beginning of her interest in technology. At Bollyinside, Amy Hinckley is in charge of content editing and reviewing products. Amy's interests outside of working include going for bike rides, playing video games, and watching football when she's not at her laptop.
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The Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN is impressive because it has strong security features, like AES-256 encryption and a strict "no logs" policy. With a large network of servers in many different countries, it makes it easy to access content that is blocked in your country. The easy-to-use interface and low prices of PIA make it a good choice for people who want to browse anonymously and keep their data safe.Private Internet Access VPN review 2023: for privacy and security